Wednesday 3 November 2010

Lowry welcomes council approval for €460m casino and resort plan

PLANS FOR a “Las Vegas-style” casino, sports complex and entertainment resort near the village of Two-Mile-Borris have been approved by North Tipperary County Council.

Independent TD Michael Lowry described the decision as “a major step forward” and “refreshing and positive news at a time of gloom”.

The project, estimated to cost €460 million, could create thousands of new jobs in his Tipperary North constituency. Mr Lowry estimated that 1,000 construction workers would be hired for the three-year building phase and “between 1,500 and 2,000 sustainable, permanent jobs” created in the long-term.

The Tipperary Venue is the brainchild of developer Richard Quirke, a former garda from Thurles who is best known for running a gaming arcade, Dr Quirkey’s Good Time Emporium, on Dublin’s O’Connell Street.

The proposed development, which An Taisce described as “mind-blowing” and “Las Vegas-style”, includes a 6,000sq m casino, a replica of the White House, a 500-bedroom five-star hotel, an entertainment complex with seating for 15,000 people, an all-weather racecourse, greyhound track, 18-hole golf course and parking for almost 6,000 cars.

Visitors would also be able to access the 800-acre site by helicopter as the plans include a “major” heliport.

The grounds would be landscaped and feature a “reproduction of Lafayette” – the seven-acre public park located directly north of the White House in Washington DC.

The “Tipperary White House” building would be used as “a banqueting facility” and also to host wedding receptions.

The project would require the diversion of two rivers and the building of a road to connect to the recently completed Dublin-Cork M8 motorway.

The existing racecourse at Thurles would clos when the facility is built.

Supporters of the project include Horse Racing Ireland, Coolmore Stud and leading trainer Aidan O’Brien.

An “extremely pleased” Mr Lowry said finance for the project was “not an issue”, that it would not require “any State aid or grants” and that it had already attracted “a keen level of interest from international investors”.

However, changes to the Gaming Act would be required for the casino to obtain a licence to operate. Mr Lowry said he expects the Government to shortly “publish a report it commissioned on the gaming laws” and to issue “a policy statement indicating that enabling legislation will be introduced which would allow the casino to operate”.

It is not known if An Taisce will appeal the planning decision to An Bord Pleanála.

The heritage body had made a submission to North Tipperary County Council claiming that such a development “couldn’t be more inappropriate”.

But Mr Lowry said the “biggest planning application ever lodged in north Tipperary” had been subjected to “thorough and rigorous analysis” by officials.

Mr Quirke said he “would like to acknowledge the efforts and assistance” of Mr Lowry because “this project would not have come to fruition if it were not for his time and dedication”.

Irish Times

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